Good Samaritans help police find van stolen with 2 kids inside

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 5:19 AM CDT
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HOQUIAM, Wash. (KING) - Thanks to two friends in the right place at the right time, a Washington state family was reunited after a thief stole their minivan with two children still inside.

Jeffrey Alderton says he was making his way back from the scrapyard Monday morning in Hoquiam, Washington, while his friend, Robert Olson, scanned bulletins of police activity on social media.

Soon, Olson came across a police bulletin posted at 8:43 a.m., saying officers were dispatched to a report of a minivan being stolen with two young children asleep inside. The children’s mother told police she was dropping some paperwork off at a friend’s house when a man got into her van and drove away.

As Alderton and Olson were reading the post, they saw a van matching the police description parked at the nearby gas station at the Sunshine Deli. Alderton pulled in, looked in the van’s window and saw the kids inside. He then called 911.

“Whether I’m putting my life in danger, at least I’m saving those kids,” he said.

Police say officers were on scene less than a minute after that 911 call. After a foot pursuit, the alleged thief was taken into custody.

“I’m glad we seen it at the right time,” Alderton said. “Whatever we would’ve had to do, we did.”

Alderton and Olson say they’re both fathers, so they knew they had to act to get those kids back home.

“It’s not just a stolen car. That’s when it’s lives,” Olson said.

Police say the children were unharmed.

The suspect, identified by police as a 34-year-old “transient,” faces possible charges of kidnapping and theft of a motor vehicle. He is awaiting his first court appearance.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are still under investigation.